Eminent cosmologist and writer John D. Barrow uses simple mathematics to answer one hundred perplexing questions from everyday life.Mathematics can reveal and illuminate things about the complex world we live in that can’t be found any other way. In this hugely informative and entertaining book, John D. Barrow takes the most perplexing of everyday phenomena―from the odds of winning the lottery and the method of determining batting averages to the shapes of roller coasters and the reasoning behind the fairest possible divorce settlements―and explains why things work the way they do. With elementary math and accompanying illustrations, he sheds light on the mysterious corners of the world we encounter every day. Have you ever considered why you always seem to get stuck in the longest line? Why two’s company but three’s a crowd? Or why there are six degrees of separation instead of seven? This clever little book has all the answers to these puzzling, everyday questions of existence that need not perplex us anymore.40 illustrations
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John D. Barrow is professor of mathematical sciences and director of the Millennium Mathematics Project at Cambridge University, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is the best-selling author of many books on science and mathematics, including Mathletics: 100 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know about the World of Sports and 100 Essential Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know: Math Explains Your World.From School Library Journal:
Adult/High School—This collection of bloglike entries is not, as the title would have readers believe, a series of just-so stories, although occasional essays explain such everyday phenomena as why the other line always seems to move faster. More often, though, they are constructed around implausible hypotheticals (what if a soccer league changed scoring rules retroactively?) or end before fully explaining real-world implications. As the selections accumulate, however, it becomes clear that Barrow is interested not in how "math explains your world," but something more subtle: how the world illuminates math. Each piece is an access point to a different aspect of math: probability, trigonometry, algebra, calculus, and much more, but this is not a dry collection of derivations and theorems. Barrow's enthusiastic willingness to use any excuse (however slim) to employ math quickly becomes infectious, and the brevity that at first seems to truncate topics instead serves his holistic view of math as a joyous investigation of the world. As probably the largest population using higher-level math on a regular basis, teens are uniquely positioned to understand and share Barrow's enthusiasms. For those who find something mysterious and intriguing in solving an equation, this collection is a fascinating look into the mind of a professional mathematician and the way in which math can be not simply a row of numbers but a way of looking at the world.—Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA
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